Mike Wallace vs. Ayn Rand
By Jeff Severns Guntzel (3.9.2012)
Mike Wallace has died, which means my Twitter feed is rich with links to the legendary interrogator’s notable one-on-ones. His 1959 interview with Ayn Rand falls right into my wheelhouse. I’ve been interviewing conservatives about their formative influences and Rand is there, almost always.
Even where she is not respected as a novelist, she is revered as a philosopher. Here’s Linda Seebach, of Northfield, Minn., talking about Rand (in response to a Public Insight Network query):
When I read The Fountainhead in college — even though it came out in ‘43 — it wasn’t so much that I was swept away by Objectivism (I don’t think she had even named it), but it inoculated me against any sort of collectivist or socialist stuff with the belief that it won’t work. It’s not so much I’m in favor of the things Rand was in favor of, but that I’m opposed to the same things she was. But, she was a terrible novelist. The Fountainhead is pretty good, but Atlas Shrugged is awful.
By the time Rand was interviewed by Wallace, she had named her philosophy, but that name had not yet taken hold. Here’s his introduction:
Wallace: “Here in the United States, perhaps the most challenging and unusual new philosophy has beenm forged by a novelist, Ayn Rand. Ms. Rand’s point of view is still comparatively unknown in America, but if it were ever were to take hold, it would revolutionize our lives … What is Randism?”
Rand: “I do not call it Randism. I call it Objectivism … I am primarily the creator of a new code of morality, which has so far been believed impossible — a morality not based on faith, not on arbitrary whim, not an emotion, not on arbitrary edict — mystical or social — but on reason … Since man’s mind is his basic means of survival, I hold that if man wants to live on Earth and to live as a human being, he has to hold reason as an absolute … that his highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness and that he must not force other people nor accept their right to force him — that each man must live as an end into himself and follow his own rational self-interest.”
And with that, it’s on: Rand vs. Wallace. Highly recommended viewing. Watch it here.